30 May 2018

Review - Kodachrome

From At The Movies, 7:33 pm on 30 May 2018

Kodachrome sends a father and son on a road trip to the last shop that develops photographic film, writes Simon Morris.

Kodachrome began life as a non-fiction magazine article about the last shop to develop photographic film stock.  So someone thought it might be the basis of a dramatic movie.

Maybe it would.  Just not this one.

From the opening scene, when burnt-out music producer Matt Ryder (Jason Sudeikis) gets fired, we have a bad feeling about Kodachrome.

Not only is this, beat for beat, the same beginning as a film I rather enjoyed called Begin Again, it’s soon clear that many scenes are reminiscent of other, better films.

Matt has been long estranged from his crusty old photographer father Ben, played by crusty old Ed Harris.  Matt is encouraged to go on a road-trip with Ben by Ben’s pixie dream-girl nurse Zoe (Elizabeth Olsen).

I like Elizabeth Olsen, and Ed Harris, usually, for that matter, and I’m prepared to tolerate Jason Sudeikis for their sake.  But Kodachrome makes it hard. 

Everything that happens in the film seems preordained. I’m not saying the audience joined in on every single line. We joined in quite a few times, though.

The plot, such as it is, is that Matt and his Ben have been parted by Ben’s terrible selfishness.  But, in his last days, Ben is determined to try and make amends.  

Can a genius artist also become a decent human being, the film seems to ask?  Or at least I think that’s what it’s asking.  It’s got to be asking something.

Meanwhile there’s a growing attraction between Matt and Zoe – who saw that coming?

This comes to a head when they all go to Matt’s childhood home, and Zoe takes a look through Matt’s record collection.

Here’s a tip. Don’t ever do this, known in the trade as the ‘Cameron Crowe scene’, unless you’re absolutely certain you and your audience share the same musical taste.

Here the couple bond over their love of a half-forgotten American band called Live, who aren’t as universally loved as director Mark Raso seems to think.

Zoe and Matt swap Live notes, Matt and Ben bicker, and the suspense of the movie – if “suspense” is the word I’m looking for – rests on whether Matt can get his Dad’s old rolls of film to the Kodachrome shop in time, and what these mysterious rolls will show.

I can tell you I knew the answers to both of these questions about half an hour into the movie, and I don’t think I was alone.

Certainly I didn’t hear many people in the audience smiting their foreheads at the end and saying “Goodness me, what a surprise.”

Like any film, big or small, it’s all how it’s told.  Director Mark Raso has a few short films to his credit, but I’ve seen little indication he can sustain interest in longer films yet. 

“Father and son take a road-trip” is a very well-worn plot, and it will take more than a few rolls of film to lift it from the rut.

I looked at the poster of Kodachrome when I came out the three stars sitting on the hood of a car – and wondered why the film wasn’t as good as the one you’d imagine from it.   Maybe everyone was too happy when they made it.

 

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